Hollywood and Weinstein

DR Radio: Harvey, Hefner, and Las Vegas

In this edition of DR Radio, Jay, Brian, and Hadley look at the moral “superiority” of Hollywood and the Weinstein fiasco, the latest Trump controversies, and what the Las Vegas shooting means.

To listen in, you can watch via the video player above or you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or Android.

There Will Always Be Women Willing to Sleep With Men to Get Ahead and Men Who Let Them

“DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS” say the signs around lakes and bayous in the South. If one starts feeding the alligators, they eventually connect seeing people with getting fed. They will then start approaching people instead of staying away from people. Eventually, the alligators will attack the people, their children, and their pets. All predators have this behavior. Do not feed the bears in Yellowstone. Do not sleep with the producers in Hollywood. This is why the behavior in Hollywood will not change and why there will be more Harvey Weinsteins.

There will always be women willing to sleep with a man to get ahead of her rivals. In the era of sexual liberation, the body can be a weapon or a tool to advance one’s self ahead of one’s rivals. There will always be men willing to sleep with these women and eventually, like the predators in other swamps, they will attack the women who do not want to sleep with them thinking that they, like the others, really do.

Why even bother with this?

Well, just think about the stories we have heard over the past few weeks. Gossip columnists aided and abetted Harvey. We still do not know their names. Newspaper editors and TV producers aided and abetted Harvey. We still do not know their names. And we know the names of many of Weinstein’s victims, but based on all the conversations we have heard over and over, there are plenty of women we do not know about. Some are, no doubt, victims. But others, no doubt, were willing participants.

Weinstein had enablers and those enablers are left unnamed. They will enable others and some will get into Weinstein’s position and seek to take on his role. In the meantime, nothing will change in Hollywood.

And yes, this is yet another area where common sense runs head long into the liberal logic of the modern American insane asylum. We want to rid the world of the predators. But the sexual revolution attacks modesty and some women will take advantage of immodesty to get ahead of their rivals. That will and does just encourage the bad behavior of the predators.

Harvey Weinstein Claims He Can Still Make Movies Wherever He Wants

A showdown is brewing this Tuesday in New York City. Embattled creeper film producer Harvey Weinstein is bringing his lawyer to a meeting with the company that bears his name, The Weinstein Co.

TMZ is reporting that the meeting looks to get tense and ugly as the company seeks to entangle itself from Weinstein, who has been hit with damaging sexual harrassment allegations. The rumor is that TWC’s board is seeking to fire Weinstein as the first order of business next week.

TMZ also reports that Weinstein actually thinks the damage the allegations have done to his career are only temporary:

Our Weinstein sources say he knows he’s “momentarily toxic” but thinks with a little time, writers and actors will seek him out again because of his track record. He believes — and probably rightly so — that TWC exists because of him. He believes he can go back and produce movies, or he can just as easily do it somewhere else.

As one source put it, “Harvey’s like Judge Judy. She can do her show for CBS, but if she wanted to go to NBC she can do it because it’s all about her.”

It’s astounding that Harvey Weinstein thinks his name will only be mud in the short term. We’re not talking about one, two, or a handful of complaints against him; this whole situation is unrolling like an onion, with so many layers and more complexity at every turn.

Harvey Weinstein looks to be preserved in the history books as one of the entertainment industry’s most notorious lechers. I just don’t see how anybody would want to attach Weinstein’s name to a project now, in the near future, or even in the distant future.

Then again, I could be giving Hollywood too much credit.

The Weinstein Fallout and the Lack of Moral Character

Regarding the Weinstein sexual harassment and assault situation, The Washington Post recently asked why so many men are confused about the concept of consent. I responded that, in fact, they are not confused, they just don’t care. It is not a knowledge problem, but a morality problem.

Now, of course, the #metoo social media movement has highlighted what may be a disparity between what men consider to be sexual harassment and what women do. But Harvey Weinstein’s (and Bill Clinton’s and Bill Cosby’s and Woody Allen’s and Roman Polanski’s and Roger Ailes’) actions don’t stem from confusion about what is acceptable behavior toward women, but a lack of moral character.

The lack of moral character in Hollywood is sometimes evinced not by actual sexual misconduct, but by the stunning silence that surrounds the open secrets of the producers, directors, actors and more who engage in it. Dozens of women have leveled allegations against Weinstein alone. The list includes, but is not limited to, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale. There are many more names on the list. The stories got around: Jessica Barth told her friend Seth McFarlane, who then joked about Weinstein when he hosted the 2013 Oscars as a way to “stand up to” Weinstein. Even when he wasn’t sexually harassing women, he was threatening and bully them. For just that reason, Kate Winslet ‘deliberately’ did not thank him during her Oscar acceptance speech in 2009 for a movie he produced.

Yet, despite the jokes and the pointed passings over, Weinstein’s behavior was not addressed. Until now. Now everyone in Hollywood is eager to denounce the behavior of a man whose behavior they were well aware of and that they did nothing about. The whole thing drips with moral cowardice. (To be clear, not the fact that many women did not come forward until now; that itself is a product of the lack of action by those in Hollywood who knew.)

It is not difficult to see how such a thing could come about and be perpetuated. Fox News recently dug up an old story in The Washington Post in which it was reported that Weinstein helped pay Bill Clinton’s legal bills during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Birds of a feather protect sexual harassers together. The original Post story reveals that he was just one of many Hollywood liberals to do so:

Further details about Clinton’s testimony emerged on the same day that the president’s legal defense fund announced it has raised $2.2 million in the last six months, more than was collected during the previous four years of his presidency combined. The newly reconstituted defense fund, operating with looser rules about who can give and how much they can offer, tapped into resentment against Starr as more than 17,000 Clinton supporters sent money.

Hollywood was quick to come to the president’s aid. Among the 62 donors giving the maximum $10,000 were performers and directors such as Tom Hanks, Barbra Streisand, Michael Douglas, Ron Howard, Norman Lear, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw-Spielberg as well as studio executives Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen, Harvey Weinstein and Bud Yorkin.

Ultimately, they supported a man who turned out to have lied under oath and obstructed justice — a man who has been accused of not only infidelity, but harassment and rape, numerous times. Whether this was done out of naivete, or because political allegiance (like Hollywood job opportunities) trump character for so many, is irrelevant. A cabal worked with the end result of protecting a man repeatedly-accused of sexual misconduct while in a position of power over women. With that in mind, it is not difficult to see how a similar cabal could have kept the Weinstein situations quiet. Even Winslet, who chose not to thank him in her Oscar speech, has defended her work with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. The same thing is almost certainly keeping sexual abuse of young boys from being addressed — within the very industry that awarded Spotlight the Best Picture Oscar, a film about the investigation of the Catholic Church around Boston covering up the same thing.

It is not for lack of knowledge that these actions are evil that they are not addressed. Hollywood pats itself on the back for recognizing that, as Spotlight’s Oscar shows. It is that the morally cowardly enable the evil people among them. That is why the primary value of moral education is in inculcating not knowledge, but habits, for habits, over time, build character, and character — strong character — is what holds up to the pressure of those abusing power. By extension, the moral value of Christianity is not in providing rules to affect behavior, but in changing who we are. As the second chapter of Romans tells us, the Gentiles know and keep the Law instinctively.

Except for when they don’t.

Almost every human being has sufficient moral sense to know what is right in situations like this and many others. Many even want to do right, but we quite often fail — the author of Romans included, as he tells us five chapters later. We fail because moral decisions, even ones that benefit us individually, are hard, especially when they are not habits. This is why Thalerian nudges are so popular with people who simultaneously dislike control over their lives.

Among the problems with Thalerian behavioral economics, for which Richard Thaler was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, is that it easily can become the lazy man’s substitute for character. Everyone wants to do what is right, but only if it is easy. By contrast, character, defined using some economic terms, is the ability to withstand the nudge of incentives toward badness. The charge of virtue is frightening, hence Augustine’s prayer that the Lord make him pure, “but not yet.”

Perhaps there is nothing wrong with nudges toward the sort of amoral maximizing of utility that these days constitutes a little too much of the metaphysical basis of economic science. That’s just it though: maximizing utility is one thing; substituting an external restraining power on “will and appetite” for the inner one atrophies the muscle of character. Burke knew of the need for inner moral restraints, but he wrote of it in contrast to the (external) formal control of the French state following the Revolution. He appears not to have anticipated the contemporary evolution to the form the external sort of restraint takes today, which is courtesy of the anthropology of homo economicus. By rigging the market, we hope to have our cake and eat it too, remaining free while encouraging virtue, misappropriating institutions to our own degradation.

One effect of the overextension of market (or other institutional) incentives toward good behavior in place of robust moral development is that, like the air in a half-inflated mattress when sat upon, vice collects wherever it finds the least resistance. Sin taxes, for example, have been found not to decrease sin, but to shift it elsewhere.

That is why moral education is so necessary: to build habits, and eventually character, that will keep us standing in the face of incentives to protect our own tribes, our own comfort or our own economic and job prospects. Those who held — and continue to hold — the open secrets of Hollywood’s sexual abuse and do nothing, and likewise those of us who would rather we were forced or incentivized to do good than to leave it up to our will, undermine a free society intended to empower the individual. The responsibility that comes with liberty and with power includes the personal responsibility to build habits of strong moral character in each of us, for as Burke observed, “It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

According to ABC’s Matthew Dowd, Christians Are Worth Feeding to the Lions

If you are looking for a senior media personality who claims to be a Christian, but hates Christianity with more fervor than the ancient Roman emperors, you need look no further than ABC News’ chief political analyst Matthew Dowd.

This man has tweeted some of the most asinine and false takedowns of Christianity ever recorded on social media by anyone who lives outside their mother’s basement (here, here, here and here).

You’d think someone who flaunts being a Catholic would have more respect for others in fellowship with Christ, but either Dowd lacks enough working brain cells to make the connection (which is doubtful), or he’s a liberal who believes that one is born into a religion but needn’t make any personal commitment of faith. Because Dowd hates people of faith.

In Dowd’s mind, anything anyone does, no matter how perverted or tainted by self-interest and ambition, or anything a Muslim does in the name of Allah, is better than anything a Christian does in the name of conscience or in service to Christ.

In fact, Christians might be forgiven for believing that Dowd would be just fine with Roman Emperor Domitan throwing them to the lions. As proof, here’s Dowd’s reaction to learning that the Academy board of governors expelled predator and pig Harvey Weinstein.

Answer: nobody, for two reasons. 1) it’s nearly impossible to have a lower sense of moral values than Hollywood, which is guided solely by money and fame; and 2) though there are hypocrites and faithless individuals at the Value Voters Summit, Christ is also well represented there–the Family Research Council is a worthy organization.

As for Hollywood: It only took like 70 years for the Academy to finally do something the least bit “moral,” and they only did it because the victims were famous people like themselves. They still haven’t touched 2002 Oscar recipient fugitive Roman Polanski, who fled the country after pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl. (Pro-tip for journalists: after the “accused rapist” pleads guilty, he becomes a “convicted rapist.”)

It’s almost not fair to write these up anymore, because everyone knows how Dowd will react to any particular situation. It’s either the fault of Christians, or it’s better than what Christians would have done, or what Christians are doing. It’s what we humble bloggers call “low hanging fruit.”

Yet I have to write it up, because once again, liberals who would be perfectly happy to have Christians fed to the lions will continue to spew this kind of idiotic venom until people wake up and stop listening.

Hillary, Harvey, Woody and Money

In what is probably the least surprising news of the week, the Clinton Foundation has announced that it will not return the filthy lucre that disgraced movie producer/(alleged) one-man rape gang Harvey Weinstein has donated over the years.  As foundation flack Craig Minassian hinted in a series of tweets previewing the decision, it’s apparently just too dang hard to separate Weinstein’s money from all the other cash funneled their way by the various banks, brokerages and other corporate interests that had hoped to buy favor with a second Clinton administration:

Actually, Craig, it’s just the one donor—and considering that the largesse he shoveled into your coffers ran in excess of $250 grand a pop, it really shouldn’t be that difficult for your creative accounting team to tally it all up.  But whatevs.  If, as Mark Steyn suggests, plunking eight bucks down to go and watch a Weinstein movie is akin to buying blood diamonds from the Congo or Liberia, isn’t taking a couple hundred thou away from him kind of like the opposite?  That’s money Horny Harvey could’ve spent luring another unsuspecting ingenue to his luxury hotel suite.  If fleecing him for funds can stop just one woman from being harassed, then to Hillary it’s worth it.

Plus it leaves more money for Bill’s trips on the Lolita Express.

Of course, it’s not like the Clintons couldn’t simply pay the money back out of their own pockets if they really wanted a clean conscience.  Between the two of them, they have an estimated net worth north of $100 million.  And it’s not as if the Clinton Foundation spent the majority of Weinstein’s money actually helping people—most of it was just used to pay the tab for meals, travel and overhead for foundation employees.  But since a conscience is optional in Clinton World—indeed, it’s often a detriment—we just won’t think about those things, and instead focus on the positive.  Like all the good they did for Hillary’s brother in Haiti.

Oh, and speaking of Hollywood pervs, it seems only fitting that Mr. Family Values himself Woody Allen would pick now to sound off on l’affaire Weinstein:

The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved.  Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that [his] life is so messed up.

There’s no winners in that, it’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that.

Lest anyone mistake Allen’s comments as sympathy for a satyr, he later clarified:

When I said I felt sad for Harvey Weinstein I thought it was clear the meaning was because he is a sad, sick man.

Allen oughta know.  He had an affair with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn when the girl was only nineteen.  That in itself wouldn’t be scandalous by Hollywood standards—but then Allen also happened to be married to Farrow at the time.  And if this twisted version of the Brady Bunch doesn’t make you feel dirty enough, Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan also accused him of molesting her when she was only seven years old.

Woody, you might want to steer clear of this one.  Just saying.

Seth Meyers on Slow Walking the Weinstein Story

The Harvey Weinstein story is an unusual one in that for once, the rest of the country is consumed with the same issue that’s currently gripping Hollywood.  A lot of that has to do with the sex angle—as the media well know, sex sells and a sex scandal creates juicy headlines that the public can easily understand;  but in this case there’s also the fame, with a lot of well-known names tossed into mix and making for an irresistible cocktail.  Add to that the sheer scale of Weinstein’s alleged wrongdoing, and what you have is a story that has jumped beyond the bounds of news into the realm of cultural phenomenon.

So where are the late night hot takes?

Not since Bill played cigar aficionado with Monica in the Oval Office has there been a subject so ripe for comedic plucking—and yet the after-hours comedy set has been sluggish to take up the subject.  Stephen Colbert, who once gleefully called the president Vladimir Putin’s c*ck holster, has had little to say about where Harvey has been sticking his.  Lorne Michaels, meanwhile, made a lame excuse for SNL, saying that it was “a New York thing” that nobody else would care about—as if they ever cared how a skit played in Peoria.

Seth Meyers, whose show Late Night was also late to the party, offered his own take on why the late night comedy establishment dragged its feet when it came to Weinstein.  The former “Weekend Update” anchor explained to The Hollywood Reporter that it was discretion, rather than squamishness, that dictated the decision:

“You know, it happened on Thursday, and we only had a show on Thursday [before Monday],” Meyers told THR. “And I was not prepared to talk about something as tricky as sexual assault in a way that I felt would be appropriate that quickly. I felt we responded to it as fast as we respond to anything else.”

Having worked in television production before, I can certainly appreciate the challenges of getting in last-minute script changes and changing a show around to accommodate breaking content—but something in Meyer’s statement here rings untrue.  First off, the staff had an entire three days to digest the Weinstein story and riff on it.  I’m not a professional comedy writer, but even I can come up with a joke faster than that.

Hey, it’s not like I’m saying that Harvey has a problem with women—but when Wilt Chamberlain calls you up and says, “Dude, slow down!  Pace yourself!” it might be time to give it a rest.

On the bright side, though, at least one other producer is happy.  Dick Wolf’s show  Law & Order: Special Victims Unit now won’t need to rip anything else from the headlines for the next ten years.

See how easy that is?

Secondly, Seth Meyers is a creature of New York.  His show is taped there.  He’s a veteran of SNL, which is also taped there.  As Lorne Michaels made clear, New York is Harvey Weinstein’s town—so it stretches credulity to think that Meyers was unaware of Weinstein’s proclivities.  If he didn’t already have a mile of material lined up on the subject, then maybe late night comedy isn’t really his thing.

Or, as T. Becket Adams tweeted:

https://twitter.com/BecketAdams/status/918325303377842176

Adams may be on to something there.  Far from being a “tricky” subject, as Meyers put it, Weinstein’s alleged sex abuse is pretty straightforward—as the enterainment industry’s facilitation of it.  Perhaps that’s why NBC News originally spiked the story, before The New Yorker decided to run with it.  Too many people in the enterainment/media complex had covered for Weinstein or looked the other way—and a lot of them probably work for NBC.

And Late Night is an NBC show.

The news division slow walks the story, and the entertainment division slow walks the story.  Can that be mere coincidence?

If you believe that, the joke’s on you.

Sex Isn’t Harvey Weinstein’s Problem

So TMZ said Harvey’s going to rehab.

I said no, no, no.  That’s because Weinstein’s real problem isn’t with sex, or even sex addiction.  If it were, perhaps a few weeks in a luxury mountaintop clinic and a twelve-step program might begin to address his myriad issues.

But, to paraphrase Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, Weinstein only thinks he’s a sex addict.  His actual pathology is a thousand times more savage—and no amount of counseling and group hugs is going to change that.

If sex had been Weinstein’s primary objective, he could have had plenty of that.  Much like Joss Whedon, he could have simply used his position as a famous and powerful Hollywood producer to bed any number of willing women.  This would have made him a creep, to be sure, but creeps are ten a penny in Hollywood.  A lot of them even have stars on the Walk of Fame.

Weinstein, however, is different.  He may play the part of the dirty old man, and on some level he may even believe it—but in reality, his behavior is more like that of a predator.

To a predator, the sex is merely incidental.  It serves as a trophy for the encounter, proof that his victory was complete.  The real thrill comes from exercising total power over his victims.  Humiliation is a tool for that purpose—and to drive home to his victims how helpless they are to resist him.

Normal men aren’t like that.

So sure, maybe Weinstein will complete his round of rehab—and, assuming criminal charges aren’t filed against him, maybe he’ll try to mount a comeback and see if Hollywood will take him in again.  If he does, I’m sure he’ll be contrite and humble and say all the things that you’d expect a changed man to say.

But it’ll be an act, and an Oscar-worthy one at that.

Predators are nothing if not consistent.